Kristina is a parent of two, writer, remote worker, and volunteer. In her spare time, she enjoys nature, trying new things, and lots of DIY.
I’m 40! Perfect Time for a Vacation!
My family and I visited the Off Shore Resort in Bellevue, Iowa, in August 2022. I was about to turn 40; plus my son and I share a birthday. We hadn't traveled for a couple years, so it was a great opportunity to take a short trip! I'm from Iowa, and love searching out Midwest vacation spots that are located on the water, within a few hour's drive, and have a "sandy beach" vibe. Surprise—there are more than you might think in the Heartland! Thanks to a local radio station, I discovered the Off Shore Resort - a property that was recently renovated (and has beautiful views of the Mississippi River). I was sold, and we booked a two-night stay before the kids went back to school.
This review will cover the hotel, restaurant, pool, Aqua Park, and lots of photos. Read on for all the details you'll need before you book your stay! For additional photos, jump to the photo gallery at the end of the article.
The hotel is conveniently located next to the Mississippi River, right off one of the main roads in Bellevue. The resort also has a large RV park, and the property is very easy to spot from the road. We didn't get to check out the RV area, but camping is an option. There were a ton of RVs in the lot, so it must be a popular option for camping. The RV section looked nice and spacious.
The parking lot is large and there are plenty of available spots. We had made our reservations online, and check-in was super easy. The lobby was welcoming, with a fireplace and tv, plus coffee, water, and tea were provided.
To our surprise, there was an indoor pool and hot tub! We didn't see it mentioned on the website, so the kids were thrilled that they could swim later into the evening (the outside pool areas close earlier than the inside). The inside pool area was very clean and well-maintained, and there were plenty of fresh towels available.
A fitness room was located off the pool, but we didn't have a need for it. We got more than enough exercise at the Aqua Park!
The hotel is two levels, and an elevator and stairs are available. We chose the standard room, with two queen beds. Extra points for the mattress and pillows! I injured my back in 2020, so I never know how I'll fare with new sleeping arrangements. The pillows were fluffy and the bed was comfortable! It was also very quiet at night.
If you want to spend a little more, rooms are available that overlook the river and have a gorgeous view. Since the hotel was recently renovated, the rooms had a pleasing color palette (light greens and browns) and our room was very clean. Even the carpet in the hallway was new, thick, and plush. If you need your coffee in the morning, there is a Keurig in each room.
Breakfast was included, located in the lobby. It was mostly a standard continental breakfast (waffles, fruit, yogurt, bagels), but I felt they included additional options. For instance, there were frozen breakfast burritos that could be heated, and pastries (that my kids spotted immediately). It's always a good day for my kids when they get to start it with pastries!
We visited during the week, so it wasn't busy at the hotel (although the camping section looked full). I could see the breakfast area getting a little full during a summer weekend. However, breakfast is open for plenty of time each morning, and I'm sure that helps on a busy weekend!
There's also an event center on the property that hosts weddings and other events. Out back, there's a pretty spot overlooking the river that would be perfect for ceremonies.
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The Bar and Grill
For dinner, we visited the Bar and Grill, which is connected to the hotel. There's also an event center next door. The best part is getting to eat outdoors on the river! There is a large, multi-tiered deck on the backside, which is just steps from the river. There's a space for outdoor musicians, plus a set of steps that lead right down to the water, and a strip of sand. If you have a boat, you could easily dock for a meal. The river view is so pretty in Bellevue, and the water is calm with birds and a nice breeze. I live along the Mississippi, so trust me when I say this restaurant has an amazing location for dining!
There's an outdoor tiki bar on the deck. It wasn't open while we were there, but I imagine it is open on busier nights and weekends.
You could opt to eat inside and still get a nice view. There are floor to ceiling windows, plus a very cool bar area with blue lights.
The staff was friendly, and kids are welcome (yep—there are kids' meals!) I had the Chipotle Chicken Ranch Wrap (hold the bacon) with fries, and it was fresh and flavorful. It was also big enough that I could save half. Check out the menu here. Some reviewers thought the menu prices were a little high, but in all fairness, it was very comparable to other riverfront restaurants. When you're on vacation it's worth a couple of extra bucks for tasty food, outdoor music, and a great view!
The resort hosts musicians and other events. After dinner, we strolled through the "Wheels on Wednesday" car show. There were some unique cars in the lot, plus live music by Johnny Walker. Lively guitar classics and an awesome voice!
The Outdoor Pool and Snack Bar
Swimming is what we came for, and it did not disappoint! The outdoor pool is included if you stay at the hotel (though they also have day passes), and you get a wristband.
The pool is large and full of activities. There are palm trees (artificial—this is still Iowa!) to give off a true vacation vibe. It's a nice touch. If I can go somewhere in Iowa with palm trees and sand, I'm happy!
There's a spray area at one end, and a climbing wall and pool balance beam at the other end. Water basketball in the middle, and plenty of room to lounge. We played all day! Safety is important with all these extra features, and the lifeguards did a great job.
There's an outdoor snack bar, plus a tiki bar that serves drinks. There was candy, pretzels, pizza, ice cream, and more. It's a great spot to have lunch or a snack if you don't want to walk back to your room. You can sit at the barstools overlooking the pond, but you're also allowed to carry your beverage back to your lounge chair, sit in the sand, or at the tables. I sprung for the pina colada, which made me feel like it was "five o'clock somewhere."
I have to mention that the staff members working at the snack bar and tiki bar were so friendly!
The Aqua Park and Pond
The Aqua Park was an amazing experience, not to mention a great workout! This was totally new to me. FYI, this is not included with your hotel stay; it's an additional charge, and children must be a certain age to participate. Tickets are available in the pool lobby, and you get an hour to play at a designated time. An hour is plenty of time—after all that climbing we were ready for a break!
Lifejackets are required, and they must stay on the entire time. The lifeguards in the Aqua Park also did a great job with safety!
The Aqua Park is a huge inflatable park on the water with slides, obstacles to climb, and a swing to drop down into the water from. I was actually a little nervous at first, but I quickly got comfortable. My kids are little climbers, so they did better than me! We all had a blast, and it made you feel like a kid again. Be prepared to go slow and find your balance at first. Let me reiterate—it was so much fun!
On the other end of the pond are a swimming area and a sandy beach. Some people had their own inflatable tubes and rafts to float on. My kids decided to bury half of their bodies in the sand, while I relaxed with my pina colada.
I believe the pond water is treated, so it was very clean. The sand was raked and spotless. The maintenance and housekeeping crew did a fantastic job. It has to be a big job—there are a lot of areas to maintain!
My only suggestion for the pond area would be to put up chairs and umbrellas on the beach. Since it's a large sandy area, there isn't much shade. However, after such a major renovation, perhaps this is part of future plans. Or, just remember to bring your own umbrella and towels to lie on.
When you think there can't be any more to do, there's a few more things!
You'll find a gift shop and arcade in the lobby of the pool entrance. There are some essential items in here for the RV campers too. We spent some time browsing and playing games, while waiting for the pool to open.
There's a huge, bouncy jump pad near the swimming areas. It's like a bounce house, with no walls (and much bigger!) My husband and I even got up and jumped. Can't let the kids have all the fun!
Lastly, there is a new playground right by the jump pad. All of these activities make for a fun, very full day. And some tired kids!
You could visit the Off Shore Resort, and have plenty to do for a couple days. But don't stop there! Check out the rest of Bellevue for more great restaurants (like inside an old mill!), ice cream, hiking, a riverfront brewery, a butterfly garden, and more!
We had a great trip, and plan to visit again. Major thanks to all the staff for creating an awesome vacation spot!
Have you stayed at the Off Shore Resort? Tell me about your experience in the comments! And if you're interested in other Midwest vacation spots, browse through Reasons to Visit Okoboji, IA.
© 2022 Kristina Bouxsein-Hearn